WACO–The No. 4-ranked Malakoff Tigers took down the biggest obstacle in their path to a State title as they defeated the reigning two-time State Champion Grandview Zebras Nov. 27 at Waco ISD Stadium.
The Zebras entered Friday’s Regional semifinal contest winning 37 of their last 38 games and 14 straight playoff games. Those wins include a win over the Tigers in the 2018 State championship game as well as a 31-24 OT win in the first game of the 2020 season.
After a lightning delay stalled kickoff for 30 minutes, the game got underway around 1:30 p.m. The Tigers struck in the first minute as Darion Peace connected with Duce Hart on a 53-yard touchdown pass to put Malakoff ahead 7-0.
The Zebras tied the game 1:31 later on a 44-yard touchdown catch by Kason English to make it 7-7.
Grandview quarterback Dane Jentsch ran a touchdown in himself on a one-yard carry to put the Zebras ahead 14-7 with 1:10 remaining in the first quarter.
Each team battled hard defensively in the second quarter as the Tigers and Zebras were held off the scoreboard to leave Grandview leading 14-7 at halftime.
Peace found Riggin Smith for a 32-yard touchdown catch halfway through the third quarter to cap a 98-yard drive for the Tigers, tying the game 14-14.
The Tigers’ defense contributed offensively during the fourth quarter as they took advantage of a fumble in the Grandview end zone, which was recovered by Cole Gaddis for a touchdown, giving Malakoff a 21-14 lead with 8:29 remaining in the game.
Jentsch added his second touchdown of the day on a quick six-yard run to tie the game 21-21 with just 3:38 remaining in regulation.
The Tigers would not be denied on their final drive of the game, refusing to give the ball back to Grandview as they drove down the field, setting up a field goal opportunity with nine seconds remaining. Malakoff kicker Juan Gonzales delivered in the clutch as he drilled a 33-yard field goal with five seconds remaining to give the Tigers the 24-21 win over the Zebras.
The win was a huge step for the Tigers to take as they finally defeated the No. 2-ranked Zebras. Some now see the Tigers as the favorite to win the 3A, Division I State Championship as they are the only team ranked in the top five remaining in the UIL playoffs as they defeated Grandview and No. 1-ranked Brock fell to Jim Ned Friday afternoon.
Malakoff (10-2) will take on Mount Vernon (11-2) in the Region II Final Friday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. at E.H. Hanby Stadium in Mesquite.